Friday, September 09, 2005

Breaking: Ken Blackwell Goes to School

GONGWER (no link available) reports that 1) Ken Blackwell has approved on Ken Blackwell's Citizen's for Tax Reform's TABOR amendment for the 2006 ballot. In addition, J. Ken is taking up the cause of a group seeking to reform school funding.

"Blackwell and a national group called First Class Education announced plans for either a citizen-initiated statute or ballot issue for 2006 that wouldrequire that two-thirds of every dollar a school district spends be used for"in-the-classroom" instructional costs."
You can also read First Class Education's
press release about J.Ken's endorsement.

First Class Education, judging by the website, is not entirely evil. Apparently a side project of the founder, the group seems genuinely dedicated to getting money to kids, forcing schools to cut overhead, encouraging fiscal accountability, what have you.

There are five basic components to the First Class Education proposal:

1. The goal is for each school district in a state to spend at least 65% of its operating budget on classroom instruction as defined by the National Center for Educational Statistics.

2. If a school district is currently spending less than 65% on classroom instruction, it would need to increase that amount by 2% or more per year until the 65% goal is reached.

3. If a school district felt special circumstances prevented it from reaching either the 2% annual increase or the 65% goal, it could ask the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (or the state's highest-ranking elected education official) for a renewable one-year waiver.

4. The State Superintendent would have the sole authority to grant-in-full, grant-in-part or reject the school district's one-year waiver request.

5. The State Legislatures will be specifically left the task to set penalties to encourage compliance to the measure.

While the proposal itself is school-positive, it could, like NCLB and the Blue Ribbon Task Force before it, be used as a club to beat traditional schools down further. Given J. Ken's anti-public school bent, I want to see the fine print in any legislation.

Of particular concern; will the provision apply to charter schools? If so, how will it be enforced?

Stay tuned.